madosini

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Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Madosini was born in 1922 in a village called Mqhekezweni in the  Eastern Cape province of South Africa. She is considered a national treasure and also one of the most important figures of Xhosa traditional music. As a young girl, she was taught by her mother to play the uhadi, umrhube and isitolotolo, all traditional Xhosa music instruments. At the same time, she began writing songs and also making her own instruments.

Madosini cannot read or write, and only speaks Xhosa. Colonisation and Apartheid and have led to the gradual disappearance of the culture of oral literature that was once so key to Xhosa society. Madosini believes that it is her responsibility to carry on with the traditions of story telling and to pass these gifts on to the next generation of Xhosa musicians.

Images via Simon Lewis Photography

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Musical pièce listening to #madosini…@Imisoceramics… Work in progress.@andiledyalvane (at Imiso Ceramics Distinctive Clay Art)

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Madosini - Wenu Se Goli

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“Wenu Se Goli” by Madosini

The dangers of our pervasive socio-cultural milieu

During the recent Poetry Africa I had the honor to witness The Great Madosini perform live,Madosini plays traditional instruments such as mhrubhe musical bows and uhadi and she is indeed our national treasure. Thus it was disconcerting for me hearing that her last local gig was a year ago at this very Poetry festival. This while we have brought tens of international artists to perform at various music festivals around the country, these artists who charge us performance fees that dig deep in our pockets. I will not even go into the controversial possible upcoming Beyonce performance which is set to take our tax payers back by few millions.  There is a pervasive inclination of not loving and celebrating our own and its worsening. We take pride in knowing the intricate details of Beyonce’s life yet we neglect our own stars ie the Madosinis of our generations. We must take cognizance of how this reflects on our patriotism or lack thereof. I think its critical that it is emphasized to the youth who are the ultimate future of our country the ways they can be emancipated from their anti African socio-cultural milieu especially through education. Since the culture that was transmitted through colonization all those years ago is foreign to the values of the South African people who are its recipients,this is the culture of the colonizers and implicit in the process of the subordination of the culture of the indigenous people. The emergence of a western culture inherent in it, that of a fluent English speaking generation who do not comprehend the most elementary vernacular, is a culture which was transmitted to us through the lifelong process of socialization and this has adversely meant a loss of heritage, especially heritage which is transmitted and implicit in language. Since a construction of reality is contained within language we have a construction of reality imposed upon us that is false to our own heritage. Thus the idea of a false self identity emerges and it is one that perpetually undervalues the indigenous culture and therefore we the natives come to see ourselves as subordinate. Hence we are oppressed and imprisoned in a cultural construction of reality that is false to us but one from which it is difficult to escape since even the language we use(English) transmits the values that imprison us and drives us to reject our own. It is through the process of literacy education that we can be enabled to reflect upon our own understanding of ourselves in our socio-cultural milieu. Here in lies the solution,as a people we are able to process our experiences and reflect upon them, we can reflect and become conscious of realities other than the one into which we have been socialized. This process of conscientization is what many sociologists say is a permanent critical approach to reality in order to discover it and discover the myths that deceive and help to maintain the oppressing dehumanizing structures. It implies that in discovering myself oppressed I know that I will be liberated only if I try to transform the oppressing structure in which I find myself.Education needs to be emancipatory and used as a tool to facilitate the liberation of our people. Especially our government institutions, they need to understand the language of the oppressed,and denounce the dominant elite practices and they understand the immense resilience of the poor who need their voices to be heard in this capitalist world that continues to oppress them.

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Madosini’s performing at Bolo’s Place, Kliptown, Johannesburg during «What is poetry?» festival.

[::SemLan::]

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Madosini musician and storyteller improvising with Indonesian poet Samar Gantang at Bolo’s place. “What is poetry?” festival.

[::SemLan::]